And now, about Russell Yates

Posted: Mar 20, 2002 12:00 AM
Hey, I'm ready to start a Russell Yates Vasectomy Fund. On Friday, a jury decided that Yates' 37-year-old wife, Andrea, will serve a life sentence in prison for drowning the couple's five children -- Noah, John, Paul, Luke and baby Mary. She won't be eligible for parole until 2041. Judging by her hubby's statements, Russell Yates will spend the rest of his life in denial. But he may not spend the rest of his life alone. On Friday, reporters asked Yates if he planned to remain married. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted him as saying: "I'll always support Andrea. I don't know practically what's next. It's difficult being separated, being without the companionship. We won't be able to have any more children. ... I don't know." Oh goodie. Russell Yates is thinking of starting a new family. MSNBC devoted yesterday to the question of whether prosecutors should charge Russell Yates for allowing these murders to happen. The answer is no. He's morally culpable, not legally guilty. He's morally guilty because he pushed for having more kids, even after a doctor warned that having more children could trigger another psychotic episode for his wife. He figured that doctors could just give his wife a pill and her troubles would go away. And if they didn't give her a pill, he could still leave his on-the-edge, recently institutionalized wife alone with five children. Because doctors didn't cure her preventable (by birth control) condition, he's now considering suing. Yates also sees himself as a victim of a gag order that the judge imposed during the trial. Actually, he should thank the judge. He apparently never noticed that every time he called his wife "the kindest, sweetest, gentlest person I've ever met," responsible people were outraged. Andrea's mother, Jutta Karin Kennedy, told ABC that after the birth of the couple's fourth child, Russell told her that he had never changed a diaper. Now we know why Russell called Andrea "sweet." (Not to mention why she was having trouble coping.) You'd think that with his five children dead, Yates would be agonizing over what he could have done differently. Wrong. He doesn't believe in second-guessing, he told Katie Couric. He's clear on what doctors could have done differently. He now complains that his suicidal wife should have told him she wanted to harm the kids. But the only thing he'd change about himself is he would have taken his wife to a different hospital. No doubt "Today's" Couric won an exclusive interview because she once admitted she felt "overwhelming empathy" for Andrea Yates. Maybe they should date -- they have something in common. During the interview, Couric used her earnest, lean-forward voice, not the angry voice she saves for, say, tobacco-apologist Bob Dole. The other folks at "Today" must love him, too. Co-host Matt Lauer questioned three jurors as to how they could take so little time -- three-and- a-half hours -- to render a verdict against a defendant who had admitted killing five kids. When reporters asked Russell Yates what he thought of the life sentence, he answered, "Obviously, it could have been worse with the death penalty, but not much worse." Death wouldn't be much worse? The problem is that's easy for him to say.